Today we are diving into the topic of mastering your leadership communication. We all know that effective communication is crucial for any leader, especially during times of change. Imagine a large company going through a major reorganization, with roles shifting, jobs changing, and even some unfortunate job losses. It’s a challenging time, but as leaders, it’s our responsibility to navigate this change in a way that leaves a positive impact.
In today’s episode, I will be sharing my findings from working with an executive team during a crisis and how we successfully communicated through the 3 tenets: timeliness, transparency, and empathy.
Join me as we explore the importance of communication during change, and learn how to effectively support your team through these turbulent times.
Melinda Lee is a Presentation Skills Expert, Speaking Coach and nationally renowned Motivational Speaker. She holds an M.A. in Organizational Psychology, is an Insights Practitioner, and is a Certified Professional in Talent Development as well as Certified in Conflict Resolution. For over a decade, Melinda has researched and studied the state of “flow” and used it as a proven technique to help corporate leaders and business owners amplify their voices, access flow, and present their mission in a more powerful way to achieve results.
She has been the TEDx Berkeley Speaker Coach and worked with hundreds of executives and teams from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Caltrans, Bay Area Rapid Transit System, and more. Currently, she lives in San Francisco, California, and is breaking the ancestral lineage of silence.
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Today we're going to dive into the topic of mastering your leadership communication. I believe every leader needs to have this communication approach. Mastering crisis communication. In crisis, when there's lots of emotions and fear and cloud, how do we communicate in a way that is of a leader that's making an impact? Picture this, a large company going through a massive reorg roles are shifting positions and jobs are changing. Some people are losing their jobs, and others are getting it unfortunately, a pay cut. I had the honor of working with the executive team in this company. There are about six leaders within this team, each one of them led teams ranging from people with 30, all the way to 100. What was their mission, to be able to navigate this change effectively, and in a way that they can look back and be proud of to know that this change was worth all the discomfort, because they're able to see possibility? So today, I'm pleased to share my findings from this experience, and how we navigated this crisis through the three tenets.Melinda Lee:
First of what is crisis communication? In our world today, we are experiencing change. And it's going really quickly. It's always evolving, always changing. And so it's not if but when, when you're experiencing change as a leader, how do you navigate it? How do you navigate it within yourself? And how do you help support your people to be able to navigate it effectively. With these three tenets of communication, you can do this. The first one is timeliness. Second one is transparency. And third is empathy.Melinda Lee:
Timeliness, quickly and regularly. Picture being on a boat, and you're in the middle of the storm. not communicating as quickly as you can is like being in that storm on the boat and not steering your ship. What is happening is the people around you are experiencing the storm, they're starting to get afraid. There's no communication, they don't know what's happening. And then they're going to start spreading rumors, and inaccurate information. So take your steering wheel, even though it's uncomfortable, start steering, and start giving timely information quickly. And regularly. You can say hey, yes, we're in the middle of this change. And we want all of us to come together as best as we can. And I will give you information, factual information, relevant information that you need to know as quickly and as regularly as possible. And if you can say how often one week, every other day, give them a schedule, so that they can rely on the information.Melinda Lee:
Now, some leaders have a difficult time balancing the timeliness and also the relevancy of the accuracy of the information. Just be wary, giving the most accurate information as best as you can. And knowing having some vetting process to test out the accuracy. So making sure that the information has been tested and verified, before disclosing it to transparency. As leaders, we want to have all the answers, especially when people are uncomfortable. We want to be able to support them with all the answers. And unfortunately, when we are in the midst of change, we don't it's going to be uncertain. And for you as a leader to acknowledge that. And how can you do that effectively by disclosing the factual relevant information that people need to hear? And then to acknowledging when you don't have all the answers. And that's okay. Acknowledging you can say something like, I don't have all the answers. And I'm still investigating, we're investigating. And as soon as we get the most accurate information, I will give it to you. We will give it to you as soon as I can. For now, we're we don't know. And when you can acknowledge that people will have more compassionMelinda Lee:
and then we move into three which is empathy. Right in the midst of all these changes, there's going to be turbulent times, and ebbs and flows of the different emotion. It's like the storm, it's like the wind, the emotions are here. And so acknowledging these emotions will help people to feel connected. Right? When we tried to bury the emotions and say something like, Don't worry, it's going to be okay. That actually helps people to feel alone, it makes people feel alone. So the more you can provide a safe environment, to be able to acknowledge some of the most uncomfortable feelings. This is scary. This is I'm upset by this change, allowing people to say these things and you as a leader, to support them to have deep listening. Rather than dismissing them, that's going to provide a safe space, and them feeling connected to you, you connect it to them and meeting them right where they're at. And when you can meet them right where they're at, they'll start to defuse or start to feel calmer, because they've been heard, they've been acknowledged. And as leader, be wary of promising results too quickly. Because as a leader, as we want to take people out of the pain, we want to go into problem solving mode, and that is actually going to do more harm. Because if you are promising a result quick more quickly than you can actually realize people are not going to trust you. Right, so you want to be supportive, and really be present of what is happening. And if there's a lot of emotion, let that be. And then until we're in calmer seas, when things are calmer, then you can start to offer some solutions of hope. Right, but acknowledging exactly where people are at. And, and only offering solutions when people are able to hear them when they feel connected to you, and they trust you.Melinda Lee:
So using those three tenants, I've had the privilege again, of working with that organization. We were the team executive team. We created classes, information, affirm wide meetings, every month. And in those meetings, we provided accurate information and let people know where there were still investigating where there was uncertainty. And they listened. They listened we had weekly q&a is where people can come and ask questions and get their questions answered as best as they could. And then finally, the each executive leader met with their individual team members, whether they had 30 people or 100 people, they took the time to, to listen, to have empathy, and to be able to support each other in this change, navigating the emotions of the change. So with timeliness, transparency, and empathy, this organization was able to navigate the crisis. So even though the the change, and what was happening was not perfect. The change that they were going through was not perfect. But when they looked back and reflected on the process in which they navigated the change, the union, the cohesiveness, the communication. It was a wonderful experience. I mean, it was an experience that they can look back and be proud of, to be proud that they were able to bridge the gaps, to be able to bring people together to be able to collaborate, even in all the discomfort. And they rose out of the change. And now from a storm of uncovered into calmer seas, into a moment of possibility into a moment of hope. As leaders we are going to experience change, uncertainty and crisis.Melinda Lee:
So remember, when you do have these moments, use the three tenets of communicating with timeliness as quickly and as regularly as you can have transparency or being able to be transparent, giving the accurate information, the factual information and acknowledging when you don't have the answers. And when things are still being investigated and letting you Have people know that you're going to disclose that information as soon as you have that. And then three empathy. Change can be emotional. Change can be uncertain and produce a lot of fear. And so acknowledging these emotions, your own as well as others, having self compassion for yourself as well as others will help the people will help everyone to be able to move through the crisis and and into a time of possibility and hope.Melinda Lee:
So I hope you take these tenants continue to speak in flow and know that your voice is a vehicle for change is a vehicle for leadership is a vehicle that inspires people as a vehicle to positive change and into making a difference a positive difference within your organization and also within the community and the world. Until next time, be well unleash your voice